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In this report (see enclosed document below)[1] we explore findings from the 3rd European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (which we refer to throughout this document as ESENER 2019 to distinguish it from previous surveys) undertaken by the EU-OSHA, on the role of prevention services in providing support for the delivery of arrangements for healthy and safe working conditions in enterprises in the Member States of the European Union (EU 27). 


The primary aim of this report was to interrogate this data in order to improve knowledge and contribute to current discourse concerning:

  • current practice, in terms of forms and functions of prevention services;
  • the efficiency of prevention services in terms of the quality and coverage of the existing models of delivery of their service provision in the EU;
  • the quality of the services they provide;

Its objectives therefore include:

  • A systematic and structured analysis of ESENER 2019 data related to OSH preventive services / OSH specialists, which includes, where appropriate, comparison with those of ESENER 2014.

However, these findings also provided the background and point of departure for a Discussion Paper[2]. That paper’s aim is to contribute to current discourse on the role of prevention services in supporting substantive compliance in ways that that will help to inform future EU policy. In combination with an exploration of previously identified sources of qualitative and quantitative data on prevention services in the EU and elsewhere, drawn from the recently published EU-OSHA report on ‘securing compliance’[3],[4] and a search of the additional literature published during the last 12 months, the Discussion Paper following this report explores:

  • the role played by preventive services in the context of a changing world of work and its reorganisation and restructuring;
  • their marketisation and its effects on provision (including the influence of market demands, structures and professional capacities)
  • changes in the nature of OSH professions, their orientations and practice and how these impact on the provision and delivery of support for securing substantive compliance with OSH requirements in the EU.

To be clear however, what follows in the present report is concerned with a descriptive analysis of the ESENER 2019 findings on the experience of specialist support for OSH among the respondents who participated in the survey in participating establishments of EU 27 Member states.

As we explore further in the section on the research methods used, in analysing the data in this report, among the issues that ESENER 2019 sought to address was the experience of the use of supportive services for OSH among respondents, who were managers or owners of the establishments or their employees, thought to be the most knowledgeable about the arrangements for workers’ safety and health in the enterprises that participated in the survey. In particular, ESENER 2019 asked several questions concerning their experience of ‘external health and safety consultants’, ‘external consultants’, ‘OSH specialists’ and so on. As well as some further relevant questions concerning the role of expertise in supporting particular arrangements for managing OSH such as workplace risk assessment. However, it is important to be aware of the limitations of the ESENER data in terms of what it can and cannot tell us concerning the experience of this support.

In the report therefore, as well as describing our approach to the research methods we have employed, we define the parameters of our inquiry and note their limitations. Importantly, this includes defining what we mean by prevention services/OSH experts and consultants, with reference to regulatory requirements and business and professional practice.

Following this, we present our main findings drawn from the quantitative analysis and comparisons we made in order to assess what information ESENER 2019 provides concerning the cover and quality of the delivery of support for substantive compliance with OSH standards in the member States of the EU. In the Discussion paper mentioned above we refer to these findings in order to situate them in relation to the wider discourse on the role of professional help in achieving substantive compliance, thus helping to also identify the limits of current knowledge and the key questions for future policy and research. But first, in this report we present a descriptive analysis of ESENER 2019 data on OSH prevention services.


[1] Analysis of findings from ESENER 2019 on cover and contribution of prevention services to supporting OSH in establishments in Europe 


[2] Walters D., Wadsworth E. Occupational safety and health prevention services / experts in Europe

[3] EU-OSHA, (2021a). Improving compliance with occupational safety and health regulations: an overarching review European, Literature review, Available at:

[4] EU-OSHA, (2021b). Improving compliance with occupational safety and health regulations: an overarching review, Report, Available at:

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